SUNDAY 21ST JULY, 2002
STEVENAGE BOROUGH 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (3)
Anderton, 37, 45
Attendance:- Estimated 5,000
Referee:- Mr M. Russell
Stevenage (4-4-2):- Westhead; Travis, Goodliffe, Stirling, Sturgess; Wormull, Fisher, Jamie Campbell, Houghton; Jackson, Williams
Second half :- Westhead, Saunders (Lofting), Fraser, McMahon, Quilter, Dreyer, Cullen, Tomlinson, Forinton, Sigere, Clarke.
Subs not used: Forbes, Wilson
Spurs (First Half 3-4-2-1):- Sullivan; Henry, Bunjevcevic, Richards; Carr, Anderton, Ricketts, Jackson; Poyet, Acimovic; Doherty
(Second Half - 3-5-2):- Hirschfield; Henry, Perry, Thatcher; Leonhardsen, Bortolozzo, Redknapp, Davies, Etherington; Barnard, Rebrov
Subs not used:- G. Kelly; O'Donoghue, Snee, Marney, Sutton
Once again, the Spurs first team squad opened their pre-season friendly campaign at Stevenage, and once again they ran out comfortable winners, which of course, is what should happen according to form and status. A healthy crowd saw Glenn Hoddle officially open the Buildbase Stand, although it was in use for much of last season. Spurs fielded almost two completely different sides, with Last season's Youth Captain, Ronnie Henry being the only one to play the 90 minutes in a back three. He had a good game too, with good positional play, getting a foot in where it counted to prevent most problems presented by the keen home side.
Although he only played the first half, the star of the show was Slovenian International, Milenko Asimovic, who played alongside Gus Poyet behind lone front runner Gary Doherty. Asimovic showed several flashes of brilliance, bringing immediate cheers from the Spurs support. Rohan Ricketts also made his debut in the first half. He looks a bit lightweight, but he has plenty of speed and some good long passing skills. Gary Doherty struggled to impress though, and Spurs looked better balanced with two up front in the second half, when Barnard played alongside Sergei Rebrov.
Rather ominously, I thought, Stephen Carr did not feature on the list of Spurs players on the back page of the programme, although he was listed amongst the pen pictures. Obviously a simple oversight then! Goran Bunjevcevic was competent in the middle of defence, and Johnnie Jackson capped a good performance with a beautifully crafted opening goal for Spurs. It was Jackson, getting forward more than Carr, who fed Acimovic after just three minutes, before Acimovic tricked his way into the box with delightful skills, before his cross was cleared for the first corner of the game. Acimovic was soon at it again, as his next cross was deflected wide of the back post for another nervous corner by the home side.
After 9 minutes, Poyet headed through to the bye line on the right of goal, and Acimovic showed a bit of pace and determination to reach the ball. His cross was headed for a corner, taken by Anderton, and headed way off target by Richards. Acimovic looked faster that when he played in the World Cup, but then of course, the climate is different. He also seemed happy on the left or right of the field, although he favours his right foot.
Stevenage favourite Jude Stirling took Sullivan by surprise with a long throw that went with rocket power. Sullivan could not hold the ball, and Bunjee had to clear for a corner. After 18 minutes, Acimovic was brought down on the edge of the area on the left side. Anderton's free kick was headed over by Richards, but Carr was lurking unmarked behind him. Milenko then had an exchange with Ricketts, before his shot was parried by the keeper and cleared. Spurs took the lead after half an hour, when Jackson was put through by Acimovic, and gloriously chipped the keeper for a well-taken goal.
Acimovic was then the provider for Poyet on the left of the area. Gus tried to emulate Jackson, but shot over the goal. Spurs were gifted a second goal after 37 minutes when Westhead (acquired from Leigh R.M.I) failed to gather an easy ball, then tried to pull down Anderton, as Darren carried the ball past him and slotted home. Anderton scored a second, and Spurs third just before the break, with a shot from Jackson's corner, that was deflected in off Poyet.
In the second half, poor Westhead was to get considerable stick from a vocal section of Spurs supporters, who were spread all around the ground, but he came through the ordeal okay. Stevenage's second half team featured an impressive Jean Michel Sigere, who (I am told) thrills with his approach play, but often disappoints with the quality of his finish. So it was to prove when he passed Thatcher with an early run, but shot straight at Hirschfield (sporting a new cropped hair style) Stevenage had the next chance too, with a powerful shot just over the bar from a corner on the right.
New Spurs youngster Diego Bortolozzo had struggled at times yesterday at Cirencester, but played an effective attacking midfield role here in the second half, featuring in a number of attacks, with Davies and Leonhardsen. Jamie Redknapp was comfortable at the back of the midfield, but also had several long range shots, one of which rocketed just over the bar. Matthew Etherington dazzled as usual with his speed down the left, but it was late in the game before he found a striker with a cross, which Barnard unfortunately miskicked.
It was a blocked shot from Barnard that led to Jamie's best chance, which was a powerful drive just over the bar. After 69 minutes, Barnard was on the right, and fed the ball to Leonhardsen, whose short cross was put in first time by Sergei Rebrov. Barnard came close with a shot from a Davies cross, but hit the side netting. Lee forced a good flying save from the keeper just before the end with a header from Leonhardsen's cross.
Everybody will be happy after this game. The Stevenage coffers were filled handsomely; Glenn praised their facilities (used by the Reserves throughout the season), and the squad had a good run-out which was enjoyed by the fans. Bear in mind that Sheringham, Ziege and Keller still have to return from World Cup duties, and that Les Ferdinand, Iversen, Ledley King, Anthony Gardner, Taricco and Sherwood did not feature at all. There is plenty to look forward to in the rest of the friendly campaign. The next fixture is on Tuesday at Colchester.
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